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Lower Your Cell Phone Bill by Changing Your Billing Address


Back in my younger poor-college-student years, I’ve always been pissed that my cell phone bill was always substantially more than what my monthly plan costs due to cell phone taxes. Arnold taxes the average Californian 13.18% of their cell phone bill. If you tack on federal tax (5.48%), an average Californian will pay an extra $7.46 per month in taxes for a $40 per month plan. That’s about $90 per year. I was looking for ways to reduce this number and this is what I did:

  1. Researched which state had the cheapest cell phone tax (found out that it was Nevada with 1.14% tax rate).
  2. Opt for e-statement, so Sprint emails me statements instead of sending me a paper statements to my home address.
  3. Change my address online to Caesar’s Palace Casino:
    3570 LAS VEGAS BLVD S
    LAS VEGAS, NV 89109
  4. Start supporting the Nevada State government and watch my bill go down.

Here is the result of changing my billing address.

Before:

Government Taxes & Fees
       San Jose City Utility Users Surcharge 		1.17
       California 911 Tax 				0.11
       California Universal Lifeline Tele Service	0.25
       California Teleconnect Fund Surcharge 		0.03
       California Relay Service Device Fund 		0.08
       California High Cost Fund Surcharge 		0.28
       California State Excise Tax Surcharge 		0.05
       San Jose City 911 				1.75
Surcharges & Fees
       California P.U.C. Tax Surcharge 			0.04
       Federal Usf Non-ld Surcharge 			0.92
       Federal Wireless Number Pooling And Portability 	0.15
       Federal E911 					0.40
Total $5.23

After:

Government Taxes & Fees
       Nevada Relay Service Device Fund 		0.03
Surcharges & Fees
       Clark County Gross Receipts Surcharge 		0.75
       Federal Usf Non-ld Surcharge 			0.92
       Federal Wireless Number Pooling And Portability 	0.15
       Federal E911 					0.40
Total $2.25

Three cents in Nevada related taxes. Notice that there is a Clark County surcharge that offsets the savings a little bit, but my taxes were still reduced by more than 50% overall. With this number, I’m only saving a $30 a year, but that’s because my monthly plan is low. People with more expensive plans will save a lot more since the Clark County surcharge is a flat fee.

Conclusion

If you have a cell phone, join me in sticking it to the man by using this loop-hole.

62 Responses to “Lower Your Cell Phone Bill by Changing Your Billing Address”

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  1. Casey

    Are you still doing this? Is this not illegal?

  2. Ty Bone

    @Casey
    Thanks for visiting! I am still doing this and all of my friends and family are doing this too. As for the legal issue, the relevant federal law is the Mobile Telecommunications Sourcing Act (effective 2002) states that cell phone users are supposed to pay taxes in their “area of primary usage”. So technically, this is illegal unless my area of primary usage is in Nevada. That said, I’m willing to take the risk.
    First, I believe we are already being taxed up the wahzoo. As a Software engineer, California already takes a pound of flesh from me every month. Second, I don’t believe my state government is spending the money wisely. When I get the vote ballot, they never have programs that I’m interested in. I’d rather donate my saved $30/year to my favorite charity.
    If some tax guy decides that he really wants my money, he can call my wireless providers (Sprint & Cingular) and tell them to change their taxing system.

  3. Robbie

    Does this still work as of October 2014?

  4. Cris

    Ty,

    Thank you for the information!! I agree, that the state of California already takes a lot and doesn’t spend it wisely. That’s not even mentioning the GAS PRICES!! At this point, we have no idea where our taxes are going anyways. Remember Pennsylvania State Senator Vincent Fumo? If politicians are crooked and do what they want with our money. Then why shouldn’t we be allowed to find loop-holes.

    Thanks again!

  5. Shey

    I’m trying to hack into sprint and change my bill to ah low bill like 80 dollar ah month how can I do this

  6. Ty Bone

    @Cris
    Thank you for visiting! Don’t even get my started about gas prices. $50 only gets me half a tank now and my car only goes 350 miles per tank. Good thing I work so close to home ;).

  7. Artem Russakovskii

    350 miles per tank is good. I laugh now at all the gas guzzler owners that get 200 or less. Anyway, the tip is good, though I don’t feel comfortable to have my personal information potentially go there, in rare events.

  8. Ty Bone

    @Artem Russakovskii
    I have yet to get a call from Casesar’s palace about this. I wonder if they have a stack of mail for me if I ever decide to stay there when I’m visiting Vegas.

  9. Ty Bone

    I just got my Sprint bill today and it looks like they are catching up to my little scheme. My address is still set to Caesar’s Palace, but I’m being charged for California tax. I’ve changed my billing address to Monte Carlo to see if this will set things back to the way it used to be. For the record, here’s Monte Carlo’s address:
    3770 Las Vegas Blvd. South
    Las Vegas, NV 89109
    I will keep you guys posted on what happens.

  10. Ty Bone

    *Update*
    The change worked. My bill is back on Nevada tax. I’m guessing that all you have to keep is keep an eye on when your bill spikes up (that’s probably when they find out that your primary area of usage is not really in Nevada), then switch to another Nevada address to reset this.

  11. Ernie Banks

    I’ve been told that most cell phone companies charge based on the area code of the cell phone. If you have a nevada area code, you get charged the nevada taxes.

  12. Bsdfsdf

    That's not true at all. Not sure where you heard that.

  13. Frydel

    Thanks for the tip. I have just made the changes to my account, I wish I would have done it sooner. Here are the outrageous surcharge we have in Missouri, they look like nothing next to CA, I am really surprised

    Federal-Univ Serv Assess LD $0.05
    Federal-Univ Serv Assess Non-LD $3.42
    Clayton City-License Surcharge $10.06
    Administrative Charge $2.25
    Regulatory Charge $0.60
    ————–
    $16.38
    Government Fees & Taxes $10.51
    Show DetailsHide Details And Explanation of Charges
    Taxes and fees Sprint is required to collect from customers on behalf of the government.
    Missouri State-Sales Tax $6.06
    St Louis County-Sales Tax $2.65
    Clayton City-Sales Tax $1.80
    ————–
    $10.51

    I will report back with the results.

    You made my day and now I am residing in Nevada, pretty funny

    Thanks a lot.

  14. Ty Bone

    @Frydel
    Thank you for visiting and sticking it to the man!

  15. Graves

    Just checking in to see how everyone who made the change is doing. Have you had to change your address again, have you run into any backlash form the cell carrier yet? Thanks for the advice and info

  16. Ty Bone

    @Graves
    I'm still doing this and it's still working for me. I just have to keep an eye on my bill. If I notice that the bill is a bit high, it's usually because they have fixed the taxes. All I have to do is go back into my account online to re-save my address and then viola! The next month's bill is taxed in Nevada.

  17. Sara

    This is cool I'll try it! I just got done lowering my bill last month at onlinebillreview.com. They cut my bill in half. Thanks for the advice.

  18. Ryan

    Could the bill be even cheaper if you used a Nevada address outside Clark County, like Harrah's Reno casino at 219 N Center St Reno, NV 89501 (in smaller, likely cheaper Washoe County)?

  19. drc

    Hmm, I will give it a try, not sure if AT&T will let me do this but hey, its worth a try.

  20. David

    Didn't work for me

  21. Is this still working?

    Which address are you using now?

  22. Ty Bone

    Still works for me. I'm still using the Caesar's Palace Casino address in Vegas :).

    Federal-Univ Serv Assess Non-LD $0.54
    Nevada State-Hearing Impaired Fee $0.03
    Clark County-Gross Receipt Taxes $0.60
    Administrative Charge $0.99
    Regulatory Charge $0.20
    ————–
    $2.36

  23. rotrap

    I know on the prepaid plan the taxes are based on the area code, like someone mentions above. Wonder if this would prove more sticky if you also get a NV phone number? Anyone figure out what the cheapest county is yet?

  24. Ty Bone

    I think it will prove pretty sticky if you get a NV phone number. I don't know which county is the cheapest, but I'm guessing that the lowest one is probably the one with lowest sales tax rate (see more http://tax.state.nv.us/pubs.htm#Sales).

  25. OG Juice Loc

    Just tried to go from NorCal to Reno, NV w/ 6 total lines.

    Before:
    Federal-Univ Serv Assess Non-LD
    ……………………………………………………. $2.39
    California State-PUC User Fee ………………………………………………………….. $0.10
    Administrative Charge …………………………………………………………………….. $5.94
    Regulatory Charge ………………………………………………………………………….. $1.20
    $9.63

    Government Fees & Taxes
    Taxes and fees Sprint is required to collect from customers on behalf of the government.
    California State-911 Tax ………………………………………………………………….. $0.30
    California State-CA High Cost B & Adv Fund ………………………………………. $0.21
    California State-CA High Cost Part A …………………………………………………. $0.06
    California State-CA Relay Service Fund ………………………………………………. $0.09
    California State-Tele Fund Charge …………………………………………………….. $0.02
    California State-Univ Lifeline Serv Charge ………………………………………….. $0.56
    San Jose City-911 Tax ……………………………………………………………………… $4.71
    San Jose City-Utility Tax …………………………………………………………………… $0.90
    $6.85

    AFTER:
    Federal-Univ Serv Assess Non-LD
    ……………………………………………………. $2.24
    Nevada State-Hearing Impaired Fee ………………………………………………….. $0.18
    Reno City-Gross Receipt Taxes ………………………………………………………….. $1.67
    Administrative Charge …………………………………………………………………….. $5.94
    Regulatory Charge ………………………………………………………………………….. $1.20
    $11.23

    Government Fees & Taxes
    Taxes and fees Sprint is required to collect from customers on behalf of the government.
    Washoe County-911 Tax ………………………………………………………………….. $1.50
    $1.50

    So you can see that the NV state Surcharges are just 6 times Ty's above and we get hit w/ the Gross Receipt Taxes of the county. Notice also that there's a "hefty" Washoe County-911 Tax. Is there one from Clark County? If not, then it's time to change it again.

  26. Ty Bone

    Administrative charges seem like it's a fixed $0.99 cents per line. My address is in Clark county and it doesn't show a County-911 tax.

  27. curious

    Does this work for say AT&T landlines?

  28. Ty Bone

    I'm not sure? Try it and report back? 🙂

  29. ontheFritz

    So you kept the CA number and just changed the address? I changed my address to FL when I moved down and kept NY number, and my taxes haven't changed. Maybe that's because they tax about the same?

    Thanks for this info on this! I'll definitely do it with my new phone.

  30. Ty Bone

    That's correct. Keeping CA number and changing the address.

  31. Judy

    What address did you use?

  32. Ty Bone

    I just used the Caesar's Palace Casino address.

  33. Friend

    I am trying to start a no contract plan with tmobile and would like to do this. Do I put the NV address for the billing address and request to keep my old phone number?

  34. Ty Bone

    All I did was:
    1. Went into my account management online
    2. Changed my bills to e-bill (no paper mailing)
    3. Changed my billing address online

    The number stays the same.

  35. kimberlygomez83

    The fees really will kill you on your cell phone bill, particularly if you don't use your phone that often. I decided to switch over to prepaid because at least I feel like I'm paying for the actual time and calls I need the phone for. Take for instance the prepaid company Net10 that actually charges .10 a call domestically and .15 for international with no contract. If you are a medium to low cell phone user, a company like Net10 has the potential to save you more than $60 a month and still offer you quality service on the TMobile network. I, personally, do not have the service, but my mother and grandmother do and really swear by it. If I can actually cut down on my calls and texting, I might give Net10 a try.

  36. ahmed

    how about the addresses of tax free states such as Texas, delaware and new hamshire? would it be more cheaper than nevada?

  37. Ty Bone

    Tax free meaning sales tax free? Sales tax is different from cell phone tax. I'm sure those states have cell phone taxes.

  38. Jack

    Texas has the highest taxes of all, well Florida is sometimes higher.
    There is NO such thing as Tax Free. The states that have no income tax get you elsewhere. I work in telecom Taxing and Texas customers pay up to 25% or more on their monthly phone bills once everything is added in.

  39. Rags

    Awesome post!, thanks. Will try Nevada/Delaware …

  40. Mark

    Do you also have to change your phone number for the new tax rates to apply?

  41. Ty Bone

    Nope! Just change the address online, that's all.

  42. OG Juice Loc

    Mark, no phone number change is required, not for Sprint at least.

    Since I posted over a year ago (60 weeks says this post and still using Sprint), the taxes have increased a good amount being in NV, Washoe County:

    Federal-Univ Serv Assess Non-LD ……………………………………………………. $2.99 (increase of $0.75)
    Nevada State-Hearing Impaired Fee ………………………………………………….. $0.18 (increase of $0.00)
    Nevada State-Univ Serv Assessment ………………………………………………….. $0.09 (increase of $0.09 – new tax)
    Reno City-Gross Receipt Taxes ……………………………………………………… $2.75 (increase of $1.08!)
    Administrative Charge …………………………………………………………….. $5.94 (increase of $0.00)
    Regulatory Charge ………………………………………………………………… $2.40 (increase of $1.20, double!)
    TOTAL ……………………………………………………………………………$14.35 (increase of $3.12 TOTAL)

    Washoe County-911 Tax …………………………………………………………….. $1.50

    SO, the $3.75 I had saved has mostly disappeared – of course I don't know if the former locale, San Jose, CA, had increased in 2010 but clearly NV had been hurting real badly from the housing bust so they had to raise taxes. If someone else could detail out their $$ saved from any address change that'd be great. I'll try TX next. How's DE? Please specify county as that matters.

  43. OG Juice Loc

    DON'T DO TEXAS whatever you do, over $27 in taxes almost double!

    Federal-Univ Serv Assess Non-LD $3.58
    State-State Cost Recovery Fee $1.05
    Texas State-Univ Serv Assessment $2.43
    Administrative Charge $5.94
    Regulatory Charge $2.40
    ————–
    $15.40

    Government Fees & Taxes $11.95
    Hide Details And Explanation of Charges
    Taxes and fees Sprint is required to collect from customers on behalf of the government.
    Texas State-911 Tax $3.00
    Texas State-Sales Tax $7.18
    Pearland City-Sales Tax $1.77
    ————–
    $11.95

  44. Ian

    This is pretty awesome. I'm passing it along to my dad, as we have a huge plan in Florida and this could save us a lot.

    Where's the best state/county right now?

  45. AttChick

    I moved from Sacramento Ca to Nashville TN in June 2011. I did not change my number but the address change saved me at least $5.70 because I no longer pay a "city tax". I read elsewhere you had to change your number but that was not the case for me.
    I work for AT&T and I would love to Refer you to them if you need to renew a contract, order new cell service, land line phone, TV Dsl, voicemail, custom calling features-anything then I have an exclusive number for you, no call tree, no long wait! Please Visit my blog at attp2rchick.wordpress.com Thanks!

  46. @mhhousley

    I did this and was surely punished for it. I ordered a phone and it went there! Just pay your taxes! Matthew 22:17-21

  47. Steve

    Please post updated details on cheapest cell phone tax states (and city within). I would like to take advantage of sticking it to the a-holes in government by taxing me yet allowing crooks who steal millions go scott-free. Thank you.

  48. Jessie

    I can’t believe people would actually change their cell phone address and illegally break their user agreement with their carrier just to save $90 a year!

  49. Almost all the cost difference is due to San Jose City fees. Here in Alpine, CA, near San Diego, there are no such fees. So changing to Clark County, NV would have virtually no effect on my bill. It seems the key here is to get out of San Jose.

  50. Bob H.

    I work for a major wireless phone company in customer service. The one that
    uses alot of red color in their advertising. In training, we learned it is
    based on a billing address. To that end, was able to look at tax
    lookup codes around the country. All you guys are focused on the state of
    Nevada. Turns out you should check out state of Oregon and Idaho in the
    mountain west. In the east, it appears that WV,VA,CT,ME,&DE have lower
    rates than the surrounding states. Not the lowest in the country, but in the
    lower third of taxation by ranking. Best states appear to be OR and ID,
    but don’t pick the largest city…because in many cases, the county that
    surrounds the city will also have its own special taxes, fees & surcharges.

  51. It appears that as of 2012 Oregon has the lowest overall taxes. I’ve just “moved” there and will report back.

  52. Allen

    How did the “move” go TRG?

  53. Can anyone help? I’m in New york, work in New Jersey. My monthly sprint plan is $35, after taxes its $45. Which is about 29% taxes. I actually rent a room in New Jersey near my job. I’ve changed my address oct, 2013. The latest bill for december does not show any change in my tax rate.
    The sales people at the sprint store say new jersey tax is 7%. I’m thinking of cancelling and getting a new jersey local number.

  54. just changed add from CA to NV. My parents live in NV so if anything is mailed there it is covered.

  55. Will post changes to bill next month.

  56. Yes this actually worked. I had to actually call customer service and complain that I had changed my address online but it had no effect. So customer service said I’ll change it for you. Now I have a smartphone $77 a month plan, after taxes its $85.xx. Half of the taxes were federal and other half NJ sales taxes, totals just under 11%. way better than 29% I was paying. And I actually do live mostly in NJ where I work and use the phone mostly in NJ where I work. If they wanted to check my calls.

  57. Kenneth

    Yeah man THANKS AGREE 100%%%

    Helped me on my prepaid service refill online. Didn’t have to pay any taxes. Strangely?! Sticking it to the MAN. They certianly have earned it.

  58. Kenneth

    GENIUS MOVE!!

  59. DP

    How about using a Canada address or other countries?

    My phone bill is $15.49 for VOIP in the mid west.
    The taxes are over 4 times what my phone plan is.
    $3 per month (for 250 min)
    plus 12.49 on top for:

    Federal Program Fees: 1.89
    Universal Services: 2.86
    State Taxes & Fees: 0.65
    County/Local Taxes: 2.11
    Subtotal for Tax and Fees 7.51
    Regulatory, Compliance & Intellectual Property Fee for 83950517 2.99
    Emergency 911 Services Fee for 83950517 1.99
    Subtotal for Surcharges 4.98
    Total Fees, Taxes & Surcharges: 12.49

  60. Renee

    I just changed my address from Georgia to my brothers address in NV, we will see. AT&T breaks taxes down per each line so we will see this time next month. You have to get them to change your primary place of usage address,, changing your billing address will not do it with AT&T. I recommend doing it via chat.And if your location goes by two city names, choose the smaller city. One of my lines showed the exact same address but had the city listed as Atlanta, while the other showed Chamblee. Needless to say, the one that showed Atlanta was taxed higher.

    Surcharges and Other Fees
    2. Administrative Fee 0.61
    3. Federal Universal Service Charge 2.04
    4. Regulatory Cost Recovery Charge 0.62
    Total Surcharges and Other Fees 3.27
    5. City Of Chamblee E911 1.50
    6. County District Sales Tax – Telecom 0.44
    7. County Sales Tax – Telecom 0.86
    8. GA State Sales Tax – Telecom 1.74
    Total Government Fees and Taxes 4.54

    Total Other Charges & Credits 7.81

    Thats only for 1 line!
    This is the 2nd line

    7. Administrative Fee 0.61
    8. Federal Universal Service Charge 1.30
    9. Regulatory Cost Recovery Charge 0.62
    Total Surcharges and Other Fees 2.53
    Other Charges and Credits – Continued
    Government Fees and Taxes
    10. City Of Chamblee E911 1.50
    11. County District Sales Tax – Telecom 0.28
    12. County Sales Tax – Telecom 0.54
    13. GA State Sales Tax – Telecom 1.11
    Total Government Fees and Taxes 3.43

    Total Other Charges & Credits 5.96

    So 13.77 total in taxes and fees

  61. Jessica

    I have Sprint as well! Did you have to change your number and area code or was it only your address you had to change? Because I read somewhere that the area code was what they charged you, not the billing address (but then again that was for Verizon). I just wanted to have that clarified, thank you!

  62. Jessica, I have sprint too and switched my address from NY to NJ. I actually live in NJ now. I didn’t have to change my number. I first changed my address online with sprint, but that didn’t work. So I called customer service and they helped me change it and it worked. I pay $85.xx total of an $80 monthly plan. and I used to pay $45 total in NY from a $35 monthly plan.

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